Sunday 25 October 2015

Under Milk Wood

Kevin Allen's 'Under Milk Wood' opens in UK cinemas later this week. - starring Charlotte Church as Polly Garter and Rhys Ifans as Captain Cat. I am looking forward to seeing it. After 'Left Field' is published I am going to re-write my Dylan Thomas comedy - 'Spitting at the Sky' - first performed as a professional reading at the Dylan Thomas Festival in Swansea in 2004. I was a friend of the art critic, Mervyn Levy, who went to school with Dylan. He told me that the two of them shared a flat in Chelsea in the 30s and loved going to Marx Brothers films. They acted out the parts when they got home. He also told me that Thomas had been interred in Macy's morgue in NYC. Knowing this I set the play in Macy's and introduced Dylan to the Marx Brothers there. The cast in Swansea included Sion Probert, Stan Stennett, Liz Morgan and my friend, Anna Gilbert. John Yorke, then Head of Drama at Channel 4, commented: “a powerful and beautifully written piece of theatre, and I have to say that your mastery of language isn't far off Thomas' himself.” 

Saturday 10 October 2015

Toilet humour

Jeremy Corbyn is 'standing up the Queen', 'won't kiss her hand', 'refuses to kneel', 'didn't sing her song'. All archaic bollocks. The language itself is feudal. 'Privy' council is taken from the time when the monarch held meetings while he/she was having a shit. 'Cabinet meetings' were also held in the toilet. Maybe they still are. That long table may have been photoshopped. As co-founder of War Child I was once invited to have tea with the Queen. I wouldn't go and, as I was the lone republican in the charity, someone took my place. They returned to the office shocked and had moved slightly closer to my republicanism because, at that time, War Child was running a bakery in war-torn Bosnia. When told about this Phillip commented, 'I bet they steal the bread'. Then when the head of our medical projects said we also supplied insulin to diabetic children, he jumped in with, 'I bet they steal that too'. According to The Republic the annual cost of the Monarchy is £334 million. The feast that feeds off the people. 'Left Field', which covers my War Child years, has no references to the Queen. I promise.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Left Field cover

Russell Mills has created a great cover for Left Field. I am honoured that he has produced such an outstanding design, as effective as those I've admired on his covers for Don DeLillo and Milan Kundera. 

Left Field is to be published by Unbound in March 2016. Funding has exceeded 100%, but there is still time to pre-order a copy & have your name acknowledged. To be a book angel, click here.

Cover design: Russell Mills 

Brian Eno interview here

Sample chapter here   


Tuesday 6 October 2015

The Texture of Shadows

I have just finished reading Mandla Langa's The Texture of Shadows which, in his own words, "speaks of the invincibility of the human spirit. The possibility for people to go for broke and do things even if there is no reward." Amen to that! A great read. A powerful and unromantic account of the liberation struggle in South Africa. It is beautifully written—Mandla is both writer and poet. Check out the interview with him here and then get hold of the book. I have finished Textures on the day when Russell Mills has started work on designing the cover for Left Field. Mandla kindly offered a comment on me which will appear in Russell's work. I quoted from Mandla's book in my chapter, 'Rainbows' which is about my meeting Nelson Mandela: "Towering above his escorts, he was the freest man on earth, freer, certainly, than his captors who’d have to wrestle with their souls as cat’s paws of unjust power." Eugene Skeef introduced my own work to Mandla. Eugene is not on my book's cover, but he gets a whole chapter to himself!

Mandla Langa was winner of the 2009 Commonwealth Prize with his novel, The Lost Colours of the Chameleon

Thursday 1 October 2015

Dr Strangelove is alive and well

With the1962 Cuban missile crisis, nuclear war seemed imminent. If the missile-carrying Soviet vessels didn’t turn back from Cuba, there would be war. Jackie Kennedy recalled that she insisted on sleeping with her husband—not something she often did. She didn’t want to die alone. If she was scared, the rest of us had every right to be. That year the anti-nuclear movement remained the focus of my politics. I read Robert Jungk’s Brighter Than a Thousand Suns, the horrific telling of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with its account of the shadows of the dead imprinted on the earth. It left me in shock. The book’s title is taken from Robert Oppenheimer’s words when witnessing the first atomic bomb explosion in July 1945. He quoted the Bhagavad Gita, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I started to self-educate myself with all that was not taught at school, following Bertrand Russell’s axiom that ‘Men are born ignorant not stupid. They are made stupid by education.’ I read everything: from Marx's Capital to Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy to John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. I joined CND and started marching against the bomb. Fifty three years later and Dr Strangelove is still scaring the shit out of me! Read more here in 'Left Field'.